Winning the 2017 Asia Best Practices Award – our learnings

With the bundle of projects and activities which are also described in this blog ( health awareness trainings, work with kindergarten, digital trainings …) we were honored in August with the 2017 Asia Best Practices Award for our successful work in South India. It is the highest award for international companies and their socially responsible projects in Asia. 

Our key learning elements that might be helpful for you, too:

Start small, grow big and involve people who matter

We started just a few years back in a very small way to engage in the rural areas of South India building on an existing infrastructure and by involving local stakeholders directly in the conceptual and implementation phase. There is nothing better that learning by doing and by building a network with the communities and local stakeholders. Health is not a one way topic; there are so many factors that influence behavior and how decisions are made – many factors are not directly even connected to health. Holistic challenges need holistic solutions – and solutions that are acceptable, owned by the people themselves.

2. Improve health in people’s everyday lives – based on what they need and what they can link to the own life

Often projects and programs are well planned and good – seen and planned through our eyes and our thoughts only. Life stories, values and goals may look differently through the eyes of people who live in a different surrounding – day by day and in a completely different environment. If there is not enough money to cover the daily basic needs, it is difficult to put a lot of value in a chronic care training that might bring entire families to a financial crisis situation that they can simply not bear. Teaching and enabling people to care for others and for themselves means to enable them to manage prevention and care according to their life circumstances and according to a level from which they can really start and implement change.

3. There is no health without wealth

Health depends on health AND wealth. I will never forget a young mother from a tribal village who presented proudly a young goat and asked for a health insurance for the goat. When I asked her why she was looking for a goat health insurance and not for herself, she answered: “Because it’s the goat that gives us our daily income. If we can’t grow and sell goats, we can’t do anything. My entire family depends on our small animals. Without them we will not even be able to reach the next hospital, we can not send our children to school, we can not buy nutritious food for our family.”

4. Holistic problems need holistic solutions

Local non-profit organizations and public health institutions, governments, universities and companies have launched a lot of development projects in the past 50 years. I do not know the resources in terms of money and people – but probably it has been a lot. What I always ask myself is why there is still that much basic need in the world then? There might be many reasons and also a lot of different factors playing a role.

However, my personal view is that sustainable change and also more health it is not just a one way solutions, it’s not just a delivery of single “ingredients” .

Holistic solutions? It’s like making a cake (and please forgive me this comparison, but it makes it really obvious) : We need to make a cake based on ingredients. But ingredients alone do never lead to a tasting cake. It is also the mixture, the way on how we link them to each other, how we coordinate when what in a certain sequence. In other words: Holistic problems needs holistic solutions, an overall coordination that goes beyond a specific quantity of ingredients.

5. Co-operation across all borders could be the key for the future – CSR needs to link back to business and vice versa

Probably, we all have to learn to cooperate in a much better way, to leave our egos at the door, to leave our comfort zones – not just doing what we know and then to stop. We need to cross-work with partners from other industries and other backgrounds to solve the challenges around us – whether it refers to health, wealth, environmental and climate challenges… because sustainable solutions can only develop if the entire life circumstances change: This includes promoting income-generating measures, communicating economic fundamentals, increasing self-esteem and promoting creativity. A clear win for those in need.

But co-creation is a win for tomorrow’s business, too. Because it will help to build new markets. And this is definitely nothing one company or one specific industry can handle on its own.

Our traditional modern processes are often limited by organizational structures and by a way of thinking that worked in the last century when the requirements of a not globalized world were completely different. So, it’s time to think differently and to open the doors for unusual partnerships – across all borders.

We are proud. l’m proud 

This award is a symbol of success. Not that much for our own engagement (of course, we are happy,too!), but:

It is an award that honors much more the way on how things have been done. It’s an award for all people who helped to make this happen. It’s an award that shows that Co-creation and holistic approaches are key. Learning by doing. Starting small, growing big. Personal engagement and at the same moment starting a movement of more and more engaged people who contribute to enable access to many services and the market. 

What do you think about it?

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